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tv   [untitled]    May 2, 2012 11:30pm-12:00am EDT

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why would the south want to remember this battle? they don't want to remember vicksburg either, but that one is hard to brush aside. for the southerners, this was kind of an embarrassment. the loss of both rivers is so tremendous and traumatic. they never got it back. it was hard for them to really remember this kind of thing. the generals who fought here, commander generals on the southern side, two of them escaped, billow and floyd. they never received a command after this. they spent a great deal of their lives afterwards -- general floyd didn't live much longer after the battle, by the way. general billow tried to exonerate himself out of this, but his conduct was fairly questionable, so he never got a command. general buckner, who was the one who actually surrendered, he was in ft. warren, michigan -- ft. warren, massachusetts, for six months. so, he was kind of -- he was not allowed to communicate with
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anybody, so it was -- the action report was able to pass through, but by and large, he was out of reach. and bushrod johnson, who walked out of here on his own he was pretty quiet about the whole thing too. it was an embarrassment to the general officers, so maybe that's why, at least the south doesn't remember it quite as well. now, let's see. in concluding my actual informal remarks here, it will be a travesty to allow ft. donelson to be not remembered as well as it should be. it is remembered with you all here. thank you for coming here. i do see nice changes coming about. for instance, there's a civil war series, short in nature and the kind of readers digest version of it of all the battle fields commissioned about a year
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or so ago. ft. donelson has the book on that. ft. donelson has been remembered in the new historical series. the work on the part, i've been watching this park now for 40 years, coming here when i was first 11 as a boy scout. a lot of changes have been going on here in the last 40 years and a lot in the last 10 or 15. for those of you that remember, particularly the water battery, the cannons were there, but they were not mounted in the actual position they are today. a lot of archeological work has been done there. they've done some great work in restoring most of the positions out there. a number of other areas in the park have been acquired. 15 acres was just signed over today. there's more in the works. and it's a nice balance between development, allowing dover to survive and thrive and grow, and then preserving critical parts
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of the battlefield. it is really nice to see that. the exhibits here, some i remember from 40 years ago. there's some that are very new. the story of jake donelson, the rooster that was the mascot of the company h 3rd tennessee the portrait was donated by the family for preservation and for here at ft. donelson national battlefield. there are a lot of remarkable things going on here at the park. i'm sure it will continue. i certainly hope it does. but, again, ft. donelson 150 years ago, remarkable. 150 years ago. i'm not going to be around for the 200th, i assure you of that. i can guarantee. some of you will. i can see some of -- you guys will certainly, hope to see you then. but 150 years, yeah, it's a long
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time for all of us. we're here for a limited time. ft. donelson, it will be here after we're gone and hopefully a long time after that. that concludes my formal remarks. i'll open it up for any points of discussion you would like to make. we'll see if we address those. yes, sir. >> if hyman, henry and donelson had survived that initial -- and grant had been defeated, what impact do you think that would have had on the civil war? >> okay. correct me if i'm wrong because i don't hear well. i'm going to repeat your question for you. if forts henry, donelson and hyman survive, what would have been the outlook -- what would have been the impact? right off the bat, grant would be unemployed. he'd be working back at his farmer's tannery. and my good colleague jim vaughn
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made a great point this morning. grant was -- as you may know, grant was relieved of command after donelson, some trumped up stuff. he was relieved when he was victorious. if he was not victorious, he would have been fired, too, certainly. the effect of it in the long term, what i would suspect is that they would have -- the union would have mounted another expedition, they might have done it differently, it might have been bloodier, but it would have happened. and that's part of -- with the iron clad gun boats, if 20,000 guys doesn't do the job, they would have come back with 40,000. it would have happened. it would have postponed that, though. and this was a place to attack. this was the weak link in the line. and it was going to come here. so, long answer to your question, that's what i think -- it would have happened eventually --
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>> there was already discussion in the north among some people about saying, let the south go at that point because they were so discouraged and there was no -- there was no win. >> yeah, could be. you know, with donelson, with the success of donelson the way it happened, that kind of talk went away. if it happened with donelson was a failure, maybe. also, too, donelson is the first blow to the confederacies for gaining foreign recognition. could have been possible for the confederacy getting foreign recognition with successful defense of donelson and henry? we're getting a little gray area here of, you know, what-ifs. >> it could have cost the presidential election. >> well, as they say in politics, too, if -- if you didn't hear, it could have cost the presidential election. it could be. but two years is an awful long time in politics. yes, sir. >> when henry fell, the navy
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took henry. the army hadn't got there yet. with belmont and with seeing columbus, shouldn't the navy have anticipated more elevation of their guns? >> yeah, probably. >> you know, because that was -- that was a major problem for them. >> yeah, it was. the gun boat design was interesting. the gun boats were designed for anti-ship operations. >> right. >> so, the guns have trouble elevating. >> right. >> yeah, they probably should have. but they didn't have much intelligence here at ft. henry or ft. donelson. they knew of their existence. ft. donelson -- even today people have trouble spelling the name, for pete's sake. i still get ft. donaldson, i get e-mails like that. so, yeah, they probably -- in hindsight, they should have. but there's a couple things working on -- i'll counter that argument with the shooting -- of not being able to shoot high enough.
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on the river here, most of the shots were overshot. so, they were able to elevate. but what you have on the gun boats here, here at the time on floodwaters, very choppy, the boat's bouncing. looking down the hill at the guns, they look pretty big. i challenge -- not challenge, but i encourage any of you to walk forward to the gun line and walk back. it's a thin little line with a couple black dots. and if you're a couple hundred yards away and you got this big 46-pound cannon trying to hit that one little dot, pretty tough target. >> basically they were about a mile away, weren't they? >> at first. then they closed in. like at ft. henry they closed in as close as they could, almost point blank. that's when the gun boats got in trouble. they were able to shoot down into the unprotected parts of the boat. okay. yes, sir. >> with the advent of the telegraph being used in war,
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didn't that lead to more micromanagement by politicians and generals -- >> the short question was, is with the advent of the telegraph, was there an increase in micromanagement? certainly, that wouldn't happen. look what happened to e-mail. that never -- how many of you deal with e-mail, by the way, on a regular basis? happens all the time. yes, it did happen. in fact, grant had problems with hallic. he's up in -- hallic's up in st. louis and he's telling grant while he's at ft. henry, do an end run, take clarksville, and grant's looking at the map and he knows what's on the ground and he says, that's impossible but i do know what grant is able to say to himself is, i know the boss is getting impatient, he wants me to move. i need to cut the bridge at clarksville. in order to do that, i have to
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take ft. donelson. so, grant is being micromanaged but he's able to deal with it. part of that is because he's 500 miles away. don't you wish you had that with your boss? >> at the same time you also had feedback going to washington, where lincoln is sitting there and -- >> in this particular case, grant is insulated from that, to his betterment. grant is dealing directly with hallic. hallic is not letting any of that stuff from washington or anywhere else filter down. hallic is in control of the communications. hallic discussing things with mcclelland, discussing things with beuhl, the war department. grant not part of that because hallic is looking at grant as a subordinate. you do my bidding, no more, no less. and he's dealing directly with grant. so, yes, it can be a possibility, a problem with micromanaging.
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but grant was able to correctly selectively ignore some things, but he got the tone of what hallic wanted out of that, so he was able to operate successfully. yes, sir. >> could you elaborate about columbus, belmont, how that impacted this area when the war came to ft. henry. >> sure. if you look at the map of confederate defenses in '61 and '62, the mississippi river had about seven major fortifications, starting at columbus working their way down past memphis to vicksburg. there was about seven of them. and they're all fairly substantial works. if you get to columbus, kentucky, it's well worth the trip. if you see what they have built there and what's still around there, you see these walls that are 20, 30 feet high. they're 30 to 40 feet wide. they're massive construction. then you see the little chicken scratchings in the water battery at ft. donelson.
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you can see where the confederate majority of effort was. where they were concentrating was the mississippi river. they knew that's what the federals wanted -- they wanted to control the mississippi. so, they built fort on the mississippi river. for the tennessee river, you had ft. henry and hyman, across the river from each other. that's it. that's all they have. and ft. henry was built on a swamp. ft. hyman was uncomplete, on the kentucky side. ft. donelson was stronger, but even then it only -- 14 guns along the river. columbus had dozens on the river. you could just see where they're focusing their effort. it wasn't here on the tennessee or cumberland river. it was on the mississippi. so, when -- to get to your question, as ft. henry in
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particular fell, that gave the ability of the union to come up the tennessee and swing over and get behind columbus, cut the rail line off. once that's done, whoever stuck up there in columbus is trapped. once ft. henry fell, been quickly apparent to the confederates, we need to pull our guys and big guns out of columbus or we're going to lose them. without a shot columbus falls and is occupied by a regiment infantry from the union side. >> wasn't much of a battle? >> wasn't a battle. zero. they just pulled back. next is island ten on the tennessee line. and that -- that came a quick battle, too. iron-clads ran the batteries and then the union got behind -- union army got behind the fort. nothing there to stop them. so, ft. henry, ft. donelson set off that chain reaction as that columbus essentially fell because ft. henry did.
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just fell right behind it. yes, sir. i'm sorry. >> the location of ft. henry, was it not doomed from the way it was set up? >> it was doomed right off the bat. the location of ft. henry was set -- was built at kirkman's old landing. i don't know why they built it there. a number of gentlemen -- captain taylor was probably the most colorful. people found problems with it. the fort was started in the summer of 1861 when the river was low. low water. and the fort did have a great field of fire. for three uninterrupted miles, you point a cannon, three miles. and that's pretty good. what they didn't take into account was the river floods. and captain taylor was an artilleryman that came out from nashville to teach the guys how
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to shoot the big guns. and during one of his afternoon walks, he's up above the hills around the fort. kind of noticing these mud rings up on the trees. he asks the local farmer, what the hell's this? that's mud rings from the floods. you got to be kidding me? kind of, okay, mud ring here. it's over the fort. the mud rings are -- you've got to be kidding. he's writing a report, to the state of tennessee, to the confederate engineer bureau, confederate army and guys come out and take a look at it and they say, well, too late. just keep building. and that's really what happened. was there some bureaucratic deal, real estate deal on this? i don't know. did some senator's nephew own that land? i don't know. but from an engineering standpoint, what were you people thinking about?
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at the time of the battle, i think you're mostly familiar with it, the river was rising. the confederate gunners were standing in water, finding their guns. it was this close entering the powder magazine, which would have flooded the powder. if grant would have waited one more day, he wouldn't have had to fight ft. henry at all. it would have been under water. you know, that was the timing of it. so the commander at ft. henry at the time, he's looking at the army moving around his rear and he's looking at the gun boats. he's looking at the water and says, i'm out of here. he sends his guys to ft. donelson. so, leaving behind the skeleton crew of the heavy batteries to hold off the union. yeah, i don't know how to explain why they chose that site. any site along that stretch of the river, go a mile up, mile south, any position would have been better than that one.
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even today if you go out there, since the dam was built in '33-'34, under tennessee valley authority, it's under about 20 feet of water. and i'm not sure there's much of anything left under it. the existing photos from 1932 had a picture of an old man. and the fort was -- the fort wall, fort north wall of ft. henry was probably about three feet high when they were originally 10 to 20 feet high. it's been eroded by that time. now being under water and the sediment and all that, i can't imagine anything's left of it. unfortunately. it would be neat. sir, you had a question earlier. >> yeah. who was the overall commander again for that region? and did he catch -- >> north or south? >> south. and did he catch a lot of flack for not better -- having in-depth defense? >> yes. overall regional commander for south was albert sydney johnson, western department. yes, he did catch a lot of flack for it. albert sydney johnson was
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actually the second highest ranking confederate general in the army at that time. very distinguished career, indian fighter, been in regular army before the war. was department commander in the pacific right before the war and came across the prairie to fight in the civil war. he had a tough job. the south had a departmental system in their -- in how they worked things. johnson was responsible for raising armies, equipping them, dealing with all the governors, getting supplies from the governors. he was a military guy but also a politician. you know, he had to deal with the politicians. hard, hard job. where the union had a far more streamlined central authority here. general johnson will catch heck for the failure of ft. henry, ft. donelson, and he's scrambling to recover from that, which leads to the battle of shiloh. he is forming the -- after ft.
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donelson, ft. henry fall, the new union army of tennessee will move to pittsburgh landing, south of here. general albert sidney johnson is collecting every force he can, bowling green, nashville, and this is his counterstrike. and that's where the battle of shiloh comes about. someone else? you already asked one. you already asked one, too. come on. >> when they made their breakout, there were a lot of other people that went along with him. now, did they -- the different brigade generals or group leaders say, you want to go? not all groups went. >> it was a case by case basis. the question is when nathan bedford forest escapes, he takes his own command but what about the other guys that went with him? about 800 to 1,200 guys went with forrest.
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how'd that come about? the question is, was it -- well, i'll just say. it was a case by case basis. word got out that forrest was going to make a run for it, break out. if you had a horse, like if you're an artilleryman and you had a horse, get on the dang horse and follow him. if you're on foot, that's kind of tricky. a lot of guys would have loved to have break out but they were on foot. they knew they had to cross the creek down there and then once they even got clear of ft. donelson, the fear was being overtaken by union cavalry. a lot of guys didn't make the big choice, bold choice to escape. it really came down to if you had a horse, got word there was even a breakout, and if you wanted to or not. that's how it came down to. gants cavalry, a cavalry battalion under lieutenant gant didn't go with forest. they refused to go. he asked them to go, alerted them, didn't to want go. other guys were begging to go. so, it was really an absolute --
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by that time it was an individual decision. some guys tried to cross the river, some guys tried to race through the lines. sneak through. and that's -- that's what makes head counting after the battle so tough because there's some guys that they were captured, put on the roll, but they had an opportunity, they just walked away. loose as a prisoner, but where the heck is he? so, record keeping was very lax on both sides during this campaign. which makes it kind of fun as a historian, but if you're looking for a definitive answer, there's sometimes i have to say, i don't know, because there's no definitive answer for that. >> even after prisoners they walked away? >> one more time? >> after they had surrendered, some of them walked away? >> yes. absolutely. most famous case is brigadier general johnson, surrendered with his guys. he didn't sign any paperwork but he was within the lines. most of the guys are being put onto transport.
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a couple more boats left to go. captain, how about you and i, we'll go? that's what they did. they walk up the lines, found a couple horses and they split. they were gone. he paid a price for that, too. question? >> yes. first off, thank you for being here. i think your book is fabulous. the life of the common soldier. based upon your research that you've done, for a moment can we step back 150 years right now, february 11th, 4:00 in the afternoon, what's going on both sides? you said they're obviously digging crazily, the southern troops are -- >> on the 11th it's pretty chaotic what's going on now. what you have -- it was reenacted today. bless the reenactors. they had a reenactment of the guys camped out at ft. henry and they made that march from ft. henry to ft. donelson, much like
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they did 150 -- 149 years, so many months and days -- a couple days. they made that march. god bless them. my goodness with the leather and the nasty weather we had last night. they went ahead and did that. back to your question. what's going on right here, 4:00 in the afternoon? chaotic. general togman allowed himself to be captured at ft. henry. that was not his original plan, by the way. he was going -- he sent colonel hyman in charge of ft. donelson. rode back to ft. henry to check up on gunners about to open fire on the federal gun boats and he got caught up in a battle. and he got all animated, you know, the combat does that. you got all excited. he was serving the guns with the rest of them. oops, you know, and he got surrendered. so, now we're -- the days after that, colonel hyman is here but he happens to be the ranking colonel of this whole confederate column. reminder, general togman not
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just commander at ft. henry, also ft. donelson, a combined command, he commanded both forts and loy allowed himself to get captured there, leaving the rest of his garrison without a leader. i find a little fault with him on that. conduct was very heroic, very brave officer. i'll certainly not take that away from him but he got caught up in things and got captured with henry. bushrod johnson will be sent here -- that would have been yesterday, i believe. but that was very quickly overshadowed because general billow will be sent here and later -- it would be tomorrow, i believe, will be general floyd will show up, along with general buckner. very chaotic going on here. what confederates are doing on the 11th is still recovering from the ft. henry ordeal and the long march and nasty road here. general gilmer should be here any time, major of engineers, and he'll start sketching out the what we now known as outer defenses.
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and that -- that might be happening right now. starting to dig tonight, how's that? digging party. >> wow. >> so, that's what's going on now. just comes to mind at this time, the big guns, the columbia down there, 100-pounder and the 6 1/2 inch rifle aren't even in operation yet. not even mounted. they're wanting for spare parts. both of those -- they did test fire the columbia a few weeks ago, but it blew -- bent the carriage it's on. the cast iron carriage, they needed some extra parts. those are being forged in clarksville. the six inch rifle is missing a couple parts too. the six inch rifle about an hour before the gun boat fight will finally be in operation. the columbia is in operation at that time, but because of the damage done to the carriage it can only traverse a little bit so it can only fire in one
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direction. what they did with what they had was pretty remarkable. i think we're going to have time for one more? one more? okay. you're it. >> a little bird told me that -- was not what you had originally planned? >> i'm glad you asked. let me pay you off for that one. my publisher if he sees us is probably not going to be happy. the original title of my book was "were defeated valor lives." that was taken off the memorial here. "were defeated valor lives." in the publishing world, when you give a manuscript over, you lose a lot of control over what happens. and it was decided that that would be -- i'm trying to remember. this was ten years ago. a provocative and thought-provoking title, and that's what they wanted and insisted upon it. i had very few options.
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one, to accept it or, two, to find another publisher. i was younger and more ambitious so i said go ahead and publish it. thank you for the question. that was the original title of the book. and i actually do not make the point. there are so many different points in the war that you cannot say this is where it was lost. but i will make the point like i did earlier, this is the most decisive one. i challenge anyone to tell me a more decisive battle than this. and by golly, i'm real proud to be here to be part of the commemoration experiences here. and i'm so glad that you guys made the time and trouble to make it as well. god bless you all, folks, and thanks for coming. an i'll pass it on to ranger dickerson. [ applause ] >> what an honor. what an honor to have you here, sir. thank you so very much. a few days after the battle, general grant wrote that the
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name ft. donelson will be forever spelled in capital letters across the maps of our nation. he and so many others recognized immediately how important this battle was in the timeline of the civil war. and this story, the ft. henry/ft. donelson campaign has some of the most incredible stories associated with it. there are just thousands of stories. and it is such an honor and a pleasure to be able to share those stories and to preserve the resources here at the park. we here who work at ft. donelson, this is our home away from home. we just love being here. but this park is yours. this belongs to you. so as much of an honor as it is for us to be part of the civil war this year, we thank you for making it possible. everything we do here at the park is because of your support. professor gott will be outside if you would like to say hello
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and have him sign your book. thank you all for being here as well. have a very peaceful and safe day. thank you for being here. [ applause ] bin laden was a strategically relevant communicator with various and disparate outfits. and to a certain extent i have to confess i had insider knowledge. while still in uniform i worked in centcom and in afghanistan. we knew bin laden personally was involved in communications to try to corral and bring under control al zawahiri. we knew we was making outreach early on the al shabaab and somalia. we knew he was involved in all these types of things, working through mediums and other types of individuals. we knew he was there and doing that. and as a consequence, and no surprise when you're talking about a global ideology, bin laden was relevant.

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